Ohio Beef Newsletter

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Forage Focus: More Grazing Considerations - Jeff McCutcheon, Extension Educator, Knox County

It is mid June, the first cutting hay yielded half of what is typical, and pasture growth slowed down in mid May, about a month early. With no rain on the horizon what options are there for the grazier?

First, grazing is by far the most cost effective way to feed our ruminant livestock. The worst cost comparison analysis I have ever done showed grazing 3 times cheaper than the next alternative. Usually it works out better than that. With that in mind consider your grazing options.

1) Can you graze hay fields to help lengthen the rotation?
2) Would smaller paddocks help with grazing distribution/utilization?
3) Would a different placement of your watering source help with grazing distribution/utilization?
4) Are there any unused fields in the neighborhood that you could graze?
5) Are there areas you could plant an annual for grazing later in the season?
After exhausting those possibilities, sometimes, it just works out that we need to feed to protect our forage resource from overgrazing. Usually this happens in extreme dry times during summer or wet times during winter.

Can we supplement to keep from overgrazing? Yes, it can be done. Most people consider feeding hay to help stretch pastures. If you have it on hand and have plenty of it that can work. If you have to buy hay to use then there are better options. Check around, one year hay was running at $170 per ton and range cubes were $98 per ton.

Corn is still a viable option. The old rule of thumb is that one pound of corn will replace two pounds of hay. Currently the cost of corn is about $0.07 per lb. Hay recently sold at auctions for $130/ton is $0.065 per lbs. Even at today's corn prices, hay is about twice as expensive as corn. Is hay cost too high? Not really, consider the hay budget located at: http://aede.osu.edu/Programs/FarmManagement/Budgets/crops-2007/index.htm The total cost per ton runs from $97 to $64 for 2 to 5 ton yields respectively. That cost does not include moving or storing bales. Also the fertilizer cost was taken from prices in December 2005. Add to that transportation cost to deliver it and $130/ton is a good deal.

Generally, in Ohio, we have enough protein in our forages, what they lack is energy. From past research we know that grain supplements offered to grazing animals at a rate above 0.4% of their body weight will decrease forage intake/digestibility. For a 1200 lb cow that is about 5lbs. of corn. The only downside to an energy supplement is that it should be fed every day with plenty of bunk space so all the animals can eat at once. Since it is dry, most can accomplish this by spreading it under a hot wire in the pasture fields.

If things still remain dry and you can't work out other grazing options then it may be time to dry-lot the animals and feed them. This can help protect our perennial forage resources and possibly make our management easier. If this is the option you chose then consider early weaning. Remember it is cheaper to feed the cows and calves separately than to feed the calves through the cows.

If we need to lock them in a dry-lot and feed them, consider limit feeding. Check out the following articles in the beef team library: http://beef.osu.edu/library/feedrout.html and http://beef.osu.edu/library/limitfed.html

Forage Shortage? Make Plans Now! - Al Gahler, Extension Educator, Fairfield County

By now, hopefully most of you have made your first cutting hay, have rotated through each pasture a couple of times, and have clipped all of your pastures to ensure vegetative growth into summer. And I'm sure plenty of you have realized by now that your forage production may not have met your expectations, and may have come significantly short, in both hay and pasture settings. Probably due in part to the Easter freeze, and the abnormally dry month of May, or a combination of the two - our spring growth has just not provided us with the tonnage we desire in most areas of Ohio. And as we continue through a hot, dry spell in most of the state into the first weekend of June, livestock graziers and hay producers alike are beginning to worry about their forage supply.

With rumors of some cattlemen already beginning to feed hay before first cutting has even been finished, combined with the less than optimal regrowth that will occur in the dry soils, hay demand is likely to be high and supply low by summer's end and definitely into winter. So what strategies can we begin to explore at this point in the year to ease the mind and the budget, while keeping the bellies of our stock full?

One thing that should come to mind is thinking long term. If you cannot graze in the summer time, can you graze in the fall, or even the winter? And if your hay production is going to be sub-par throughout the season, are there ways to utilize any other ground or forages in order to put up the tonnage you need?

It is probably an everyday occurrence for most of us to drive down the road anytime from November through March and see beef cows eating hay from a round bale feeder or from a bale unrolled down the hillside. And it is not all that uncommon to drive down a rural road in Ohio during that same time period and see cows grazing in an open pasture of stockpiled fescue or a harvested corn field. However, how often do we regularly drive down the road in Ohio, or anywhere in the Midwest, in the fall or winter and see cows grazing oats, rye, and turnips along a single strand of electric fence in a small section of field that we distinctly remember soybeans, corn, or wheat being harvested from just a few weeks or months back? Similarly, how often do we see lush, dark green, what appears to be grass hay fields being baled in late summer? Or how often do we experience any hay field producing much more than one large round bale per acre in late summer or early fall?

The answer to almost all of the above questions is "not nearly often enough." But we do have the power to be able to answer that question differently for ourselves, as long as we plan ahead, and get at least a slight amount of cooperation from mother nature.

If you are also a row crop producer, the solutions may certainly be easier to implement, but with a little legwork, most anyone can adapt some of the practices with at least some benefits. The main component of my strategies is looking to other forages that can be seeded yet this season. From my experiences with local operations in Fairfield County, Oats would be the forage of choice to provide the lowest input, most readily available forage, with the best chance for significant tonnage. All you need is some ground to grow them on, and summer planted oats can accomplish one of 3 things for us yet this year. 1 - additional forage to be grazed late summer through early winter. 2 - additional forage that can be baled or wet-wrapped late summer into fall. 3 - temporary pasture renovation.

The ideal situation is planting oats into a harvested wheat field in mid-summer. With just a little moisture and a small amount of nitrogen, you might be surprised at the growth you can get out of oats planted in July or August. If you have a wheat field that can be fenced with water nearby, or can rent such a field from a neighbor who does not plan to double crop beans, this oat field could be grazed as early as September, and depending on management and size, could provide feed well into winter while pastures are rested and/or dormant during the hot, dry summer we are already experiencing. And if you have a wheat field that cannot be grazed, or you are simply a hay producer, why not use that wheat field to grow summer oats for hay? With a rather quick dry down even under less than ideal conditions, it is certainly possible to make dry hay from oats well into September and possibly October, and the tonnage will often exceed production of any other hayfield this time of year while still providing adequate nutritional quality for any species. If you do not get that window to cut them for dry hay, it may cost a little more, but having the oats wet-wrapped beats the alternative of having no hay or forage available into winter!

But what if you do not have a wheat field to plant summer oats into? Are you growing corn or beans, or have a neighbor who is? Consider aerial seeding oats into a standing corn field in August, or a standing bean field in September, and graze the field immediately after harvest.

No row crops around at all, but still looking for options? Consider drilling oats into a pasture that has gone dormant or that needs renovation. Although they are an annual, this may give some needed forage to help you through the year on an otherwise unproductive piece of ground.

As I mentioned, the key to any of these scenarios will be at least a little cooperation with a timely shower from mother nature to foster oat growth. But even in extremely dry years, we have seen yields of at least ½ ton to 3 tons per acre, giving us not only enough forage to recoup our costs of seed, nitrogen, and fuel, but also enough to ease our minds and fill the bellies of our stock. For more information, or questions with how you can make oats as a forage work for your operation, feel free to contact the Fairfield County Extension office at 740-653-5419 for our recommendations on seeding rates, nitrogen rates, planting methods and timing, and harvest management. In the mean time, this web link has photos, data and discussion of a few of the past year's attempts at the alternatives described above: http://fairfield.osu.edu/ag/graze/wntrgraz.htm

Late Spring Multiflora Rose Management in Pastures - Dwight Lingenfelter, PSU Weed Science

As spring progresses, multiflora rose begins its growth and eventually will bloom in late May/early June. Several tactics can be used to control this problem weed and these methods will be briefly discussed.

Mechanical control methods include mowing, which requires repeated mowings per season for several years, and excavating, which involves pulling individual plants from the soil with heavy equipment, can be costly, time-consuming and laborious. However, these are viable means for multiflora rose management. Also, management techniques which include biological controls have been used. Two of the more prominent biocontrol agents are rose rosette disease (RRD) and herbivores such as goats or sheep. RRD is a virus which is slowly spreading into our region of the country. Multiflora rose plants infected with RRD usually die within two years. Though RRD may not eradicate the multiflora rose problem, it should help reduce it over the long run. If managed properly, goats and sheep can help control multiflora rose. Research has shown that initially 8 to 10 goats and/or sheep pastured with compatible livestock (cattle) can help reduce rose and other brushy infestations.

Although the above control practices help, several herbicides provide good control of multiflora rose, especially when applied during the bud to bloom growth stages. Three foliar applied herbicides suggested for late-spring/summer are Cimarron, Crossbow and glyphosate. Glyphosate has been more effective in PSU research at fall application time. Some of the newer products like Milestone and ForeFront are not effective on multiflora rose.

Cimarron or Cimarron Plus can be used as a broadcast or spot treatment. For best control apply either product at a rate of 1 oz/A plus a surfactant for broadcast treatments or 1.0 oz/100 gallons water plus surfactant for spot treatments. Applications should be made in the spring, soon after plants are fully leafed-out. Rose plants must be less than 3 feet tall for treatment to be effective. There is no application to grazing interval for Ally.

Foliar applications of Crossbow can be effective on multiflora rose. For spot treatments, use 4 to 6 oz/3 gallons water and spray until foliage is uniformly wet. For broadcast applications, use 1.5 to 4 gallons of Crossbow in enough water to deliver 10 to 30 gallons of spray per acre. Early to mid June is an excellent time to make these applications. Follow-up treatments may be necessary. An interval of 14 days is required for lactating dairy if using 2 gallons/A or less.

Glyphosate can be used as spot treatments on isolated patches of multiflora rose. Apply a 1 percent solution (about 1 qt/25 gallons water) of glyphosate with a hand-held sprayer. Uniformly wet leaves and green stems, but avoid runoff. Application should be made in late summer or early fall when plants are actively growing (after fruit formation). A 14 day interval is required for grazing animals.

No matter which control tactic is used, follow-up maintenance practices are a must for long-term control. Removal of dead brush, annual mowing and adequate soil fertility are examples of practices that should be used to maintain control of multiflora rose and in turn, will encourage pasture growth.

For more information on multiflora rose and its management refer to the publication Agronomy Facts 46: Multiflora Rose Management in Grass Pastures. A copy can be found online at http://cropsoil.psu.edu/extension/facts/agfact46.pdf

C Davis launches a research study to protect the US from foot-and-mouth disease

The Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS) in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, has launched a nationwide research study aimed at protecting the livestock industry from the devastating consequences of foot-and-mouth disease.

Livestock producers throughout the nation are asked to participate in an online survey to gather data on animal movements and husbandry practices that will be used in a simulation model to predict the duration and magnitude of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, as well as determine the best strategies for containment. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Diseases (FAZD) and is supported by the USDA and the Department of Homeland Security.

Foot-and-mouth (FMD) is one of the most highly contagious diseases affecting cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer. In 2001 an outbreak of FMD in the UK resulted in catastrophic economic losses exceeding $15 billion. As a result, at least 6 million animals were slaughtered. In the US, the economic impact of an outbreak is estimated to be as high as $13 billion and every segment of the livestock industry would be severely affected.

FMD is on the top of the Department of Homeland Security's list for a bioterrorist attack on US agriculture. "Because it spreads so quickly and it is easily transmitted, the threat of FMD to the US is very serious and we need to be prepared," said Dr. Tim Carpenter, director of the study. "Our model will provide decision-makers with a valuable tool for rapid response and will help determine the best strategies, including vaccination, to contain an outbreak and minimize impact to the livestock industry".

With no recent cases of FMD in the US to use as an example (the last was in 1929) it is hard to predict how an outbreak might spread in today's globalized environment. Information about the distribution of livestock nationwide, animal movements and husbandry practices in the US is not up to date. This lack of current information hampers the implementation of an effective response strategy.

According to Dr. Carpenter, "the online survey will allow us to develop a model based on real, up-to-date data for animal movements and current practices that could determine how the disease spreads. Only livestock producers can provide us with this information. This model would put the US at the forefront in preparedness for not only foot-and-mouth but also other foreign animal diseases".

CADMS guarantees that all the information will be kept confidential and will only be used for modeling purposes.

The online survey can be found at: http://www.cadms.ucdavis.edu